I'm really disappointed that Browns rookie QB Johnny Manziel isn't playing this week -- he's hurt -- as I've won plenty of money at sportsbooks betting against him on Bovada NFL specials the past two weeks. Here are your Week 17 recommendations.
How Many Head Coaches Will Be Fired by Kickoff of First Playoff Game?
The 'over/under' is 5.5 on NFL odds with both options at -120. Of course the day after the end of the regular season is known as Black Monday, when most teams cut bait immediately with their coaches. But at least on this prop you have until next Saturday afternoon when the first wild-card game begins. I think for sure gone by then are the Jets' Rex Ryan, Bears' Marc Trestman and 49ers' Jim Harbaugh. Other possibilities are the Giants' Tom Coughlin, although New York is surging right now, the Redskins' Jay Gruden, the Panthers' Ron Rivera, and the Falcons' Mike Smith. You can put Smith in the for sure list if Atlanta loses Sunday at home to Carolina in the NFC South winner-take-all game.
Free NFL Pick: 'Under.' Gruden has been told he's staying. The Giants' recent play appears to have gotten Coughlin one more season. Miami's Joe Philbin was thought to be in trouble, but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross already has declared Philbin is safe.
Will a Chiefs Receiver Catch a Touchdown Pass in Week 17?
No is -200 on NFL odds and yes at +160. In one of the most amazing statistics I have ever heard, no Kansas City receiver has caught a touchdown pass this season. That has never happened in a full 16-agme season. The fewest touchdown catches by a group of wide receivers in a 16-game season is two, by the 1981 Saints and matched by the 2004 Giants. Chiefs QB Alex Smith has 18 touchdown passes, but they are to Travis Kelce (tight end), Jamaal Charles (running back), Anthony Fasano (tight end), Joe McKnight (running back), Knile Davis (running back) and Anthony Sherman (fullback). Yes, a fullback as more TD catches than any Chiefs receiver. The Chiefs host San Diego on Sunday in a game both must win to get into the playoffs. The Chargers are in with a victory, while K.C. needs a win and plenty of help.
Free NFL Pick: Yes is good value here, as long as K.C. top receiver Dwayne Bowe plays through his shoulder injury, although I almost hope it doesn't happen.
Will Colin Kaepernick Throw a Fourth-Quarter TD Pass Week 17?
No is -325 and yes +250. In another amazing statistic, Kaepernick hasn't thrown a TD pass in the fourth quarter yet this season. He has thrown 17 touchdowns overall in a disastrous season for the 49ers. They host Arizona on Sunday in what will be Harbaugh's final game.
NFL Free Pick: I have a feeling Kaepernick knows about this stat and remedies it. The Niners don't have anything else to play for. Take yes.
Who Will Lead the League in Passing Yards?
Ben Roethlisberger is the even-money favorite with Drew Brees on NFL odds and Andrew Luck at +700. Luck has led this category nearly all season but he had a terrible game last Sunday in Dallas and was pulled early after throwing for only 109 yards. Luck has 4,610 yards, with Big Ben at 4,635 and Brees at 4,671. Brees' Saints are in Tampa against the No. 26 pass defense in a game that means nothing to either team. Big Ben's Steelers host Cincinnati in the AFC North winner-take-all game. He threw for 350 yards on Dec. 7 in Cincinnati. Roethlisberger has never led the NFL in passing yards.
Free NFL Pick: Roethlisberger. Maybe the Saints pull Brees early so he doesn't get hurt. Ditto the Colts and Luck as Indy also is in a meaningless game.
Who Will Lead the League in Sacks?
Houston's J.J. Watt, your lock NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is the even-money favorite at sportsbooks with Kansas City's Justin Houston at +120 and Baltimore's Elvis Dumervil at +500. Houston leads with 18, while Watt has 17.5 and Dumervil 17.0. Thus is appears that the NFL single-season record of 22.5 is safe for another year. Houston goes against the Chargers and had a sack earlier this year against them. Watt faces an atrocious Jacksonville offensive line against which he had three sacks on Dec. 7. Dumervil faces the Browns and didn't get a sack in the early-season meeting.
Free NFL Pick: I understand why Watt is favored, but if things stay the same (or Watt gets hurt) Houston wins and he's the one for your NFL picks. Plus all he's asked to do is rush the QB. Watt does everything.